Kathua rape-and-murder case | PDP to quit alliance if justice thwarted: Bukhari

Presence of 2 BJP ministers at rally supporting the accused creates storm | NC calls their participation open challenge to CM, seeks HC-monitored probe | Govt should have in mind sentiments of all, says BJP

Srinagar, Publish Date: Mar 4 2018 12:27AM | Updated Date: Mar 4 2018 2:16AM
Kathua rape-and-murder case | PDP to quit alliance if justice thwarted: BukhariFile Photo

Senior PDP minister Altaf Bukhari on Saturday said his party would end the alliance with the BJP if it fails to deliver justice in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu’s Kathua district January this year.

Bukhari’s remarks came on the day the opposition launched a scathing attack on the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and her government over participation of two BJP ministers in a programme of the Hindu EktaManch, an organization which has been defending the main accused, who is a special police officer.

“This was an unfortunate incident. I am custodian of children of J&K. Let me assure you that we will take this case to logical end. We won’t spare the culprits no matter who stands with whom. This is the question of humanity. The day you feel that we have failed to do justice you won’t see any of us here not even our Chief Minister,” Bukhari told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

Asked about the demand for handing over the case to CBI, Bukhari said: “I don’t think so as the case is already under investigations by the Crime Branch.  Our police is very professional. The Crime Branch is conducting the investigation and it will be taken to logical conclusion. I assure you on behalf of the government that we will not fail to deliver justice in this matter.”

On Thursday the BJP ministers ChoudharyLal Singh and Chandra Prakash Ganga attended the rally where the participants reiterated the demand for transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The minister’s presence at the function put the PDP in a tight spot.

Hitting out at the government, National Conference termed participation of the ministers as an “open challenge to the authority” of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and a “conclusive proof” about interference of ministers in the investigation into the heinous crime that shook the state.

The party asked the Chief Minister, who is also home minister, to explain how prohibitory orders imposed in the area were violated by the ministers and why no action was taken against them.

“Is the Chief Minister too scared to act? Is power so important to her that she is willing to be ridiculed in such fashion?” NC spokesman JunaidMattu said.

The eight-year old victim from Gujjar community had gone missing from outside her home in Rassana village on January 10 and her body was spotted by villagers in a nearby forest on January 17.

The investigation had led to arrest of a minor boy and SPO Deepak Khajuria. Days after the arrests, the Manch was formed in Kathua that took out a rally, waiving the tri-color, in support of the SPO, demanding his release and transfer of the case to CBI.

However the CB has said it wouldn’t be deterred by the protests and has since arrested another SPO.

The state BJP defended the visit of the ministers to Manch rally at Kathua. 

“There was anger among our people. Our local MLA Kuldeep Raj faced tough time at the hand of people there. He was told why didn’t he visit and sit with them. We told people that we are with you but we condemn the incident and demand severe punishment to the culprits,” said BJP’s state general secretary (Organization) Ashok Koul, adding people were assured that “if they feel there was any injustice the party will see to it”.

“If they feel the case should be handed over to CBI, the agency will go deeper into it, they won’t hush it up,” said Koul.

BJP national vice-president AvinashRai Khanna said that seeking justice did not mean communalising the incident. 

“Government should consider everyone’s sentiments. Everyone has sentiments,” Khanna told a local news agency.

Both the ministers however didn’t respond to repeated calls from Greater Kashmir for their comment on the issue.

Another senior PDP minister Naeem Akhter said it was highly deplorable that divisive politics was being played by “some people” over the most reprehensible crime.

“The dangerous attempts of polarising the situation in otherwise tolerant and inclusive Jammu region over a dastardly criminal act need to be seen through and discouraged at every level,” he said.

While expressing dismay over fingers being raised on J&K police, Akhter said police was known for its investigative skills and nobody can question their professional capabilities. “…ironically, the same politicians who are today questioning professional capabilities of the police and want it to be kept out of investigations, make a beeline to offer tributes when any personnel of the same force sacrifices his life while fighting elements inimical to peace,” he said, adding there can’t be double-standards in valuing responsibilities of police in one breath and demeaning the institution in another breath.

However the National Conference sought fast-tracking of the investigation while stating that “divisive elements were using pretext of a demand for CBI probe to slow-down the investigation and intimidate family of the victim, key witnesses as well as the investigation officers”.

“The probe should be monitored by the court on a day-to-day basis considering both severity and sensitivity of the beastly crime as also repeated attempts of interference by senior ministers and political quarters,” Mattu said.